Reality is truly stranger than fiction. In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto gave us the blueprint for Bitcoin, the trailblazing cryptocurrency, as his own brand of rebellion against the traditional financial system.

That year was a nightmarish period for many parts of the world. Several economies had to grapple with the far-reaching effects of the financial crisis that originated in the suburbs of the US. It was a period of economic meltdown triggered by corrupt rewards for mortgage interests and credit rating agencies, as well as the senseless beliefs of property buyers.

At the time, Bitcoin symbolised an attractive alternative to fiat money, which was somehow instrumental in wiping out the wealth of millions of households. Over a decade later, Bitcoin is far from being taken seriously as legal tender.

Make no mistake about it, the digital coin was embraced by 35 million users around the world as of December 2018. Although Bitcoin’s following is greater than the population of many countries, it accounts for just less than 1 per cent of all of us alive today.

Clearly, it remains light-years away from mass adoption.

Speculators do their bit

To make matters worse, the weaknesses of Bitcoin were exposed in 2018 due to speculation, when its price plunged from about $20,000 in the first quarter to a little over $3,100 in the third. Its bubble made people realise that it is not much different from fiat currencies.

What most of us missed as we marvel at the shiny new asset was the technology behind it: blockchain. A decentralised ledger that records transactions in a transparent and immutable manner, blockchain was actually the real game-changer.

In past years, blockchain projects were happening left and right, dramatically disrupting industries, such as banking, retail, and automotive, in ways never thought were possible. Despite its inherent, albeit resolvable, flaws, blockchain convinced the world that it is the future. Many territories, particularly the US state of Delaware, bought into the promises it holds.

But perhaps no country could rival the enthusiasm of the United Arab Emirates.

The Blockchain Strategy 2021

The UAE government is an avid adopter of technology. In fact, it aims to conduct half of all of its transactions through a blockchain platform by 2021.

Leading the way is Dubai, which is poised to become the first completely blockchain-driven city on the planet by 2020. The strategy is guided by its three pillars: government efficiency, industry creation, and international leadership.

Dubai 10x

To ensure the strategy stays on course, the Dubai Future Foundation launched the Dubai 10x programme. It involves 37 government agencies and different members of the private sector working together on a bunch of initiatives in key areas, including health, energy, sports, tourism, and education.

A case in point is the recent partnership between the Dubai Land Department and Etisalat. The two signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a blockchain solution for real estate, with the goal of digitising property deals, introducing a paperless regime and implementing smart government standards.

Global Blockchain Council

In terms of blockchain technological advancement, Dubai intends to propel itself 10 years ahead of all global cities. The Global Blockchain Council was formed to think of unexplored use cases for blockchain and tackle challenges to help Dubai set future trends for the rest of the world to embrace.

Forty-six members make up the council. The elite group includes vital players in the crypto world, such as Ethereum and BitOasis, and strategic partners outside the financial sectors.

Running a government purely on a blockchain is ambitious, to say the least. If there is one country that has the will, the means, and the track record to pull off such a grand aspiration, though, it is undoubtedly the UAE.

Milica Kostic is with Fortunly.